It is time Harrogate Borough Council stopped being liberal with the truth. Historically, the majority of council funding came from the Government, from general taxation and business rates.
Council Tax and rents generally made up approximately 25 per cent of council income. From 2013, councils have been able to retain 50 per cent of the business rates they collect, and from 2020 that will rise to 100 per cent. Whilst HBC continue to publicise the total removal of Government funding by 2020, they do not tell residents about the increase in business rate revenue.
A lot of services provided by councils are not used by everyone. The majority of HBC residents pay for local services, including those they do not use, through general taxation and Council Tax. Whilst I agree it would appear unfair for HBC to increase Council Tax to pay for the collection of garden waste, it is also unfair for HBC to make a substantial profit from the users of the service in order to enhance the general waste collection service for all residents and for other, unspecified, expenditure.
Based on the report from WYG Environment which was commissioned by HBC, Coun Harrison states the proposed charge of £39 is in line with other local councils. Garden waste charges for many of the councils contained in the report as being Harrogate’s nearest neighbours are, in fact, located in the south of the country (eg South Oxfordshire, Vale of White Horse, Wychavon and Mid Sussex). Rushcliffe Borough Council in Nottinghamshire, which charges £30, was not in the report. Of near neighbours that charge for the garden waste service, both Richmondshire and York charge significantly less than £39, with York not even charging for the removal of the first bin.
What other authorities charge should not be the basis for what HBC charges – it is noted figures contained in the WYG report indicate the net current cost of the garden waste removal service is less than £10 per bin.
The subsequent consultation conducted by HBC did not include all users of the service. The result of the consultation was the majority of responders recommended the existing situation be maintained – a response the council chose to ignore. The reason for the garden waste charge of £39 is to generate revenue.
Not only will HBC save the current net cost of £412k but will generate estimated net income of £622k at a 40 per cent take up. If the current level of 60 per cent is maintained the estimated net income will be £964k. For those who choose to pay, Harrogate Council also chose not to publicise £39 is the equivalent of a 17.76 per cent increase on the Band D Council Tax of £219.56.